Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Well Intentioned Bad Science is Still Bad Science

I recently saw an interesting anti-smoking ad:

Let's see what Picard thinks of this ad:

That's what I thought. You see, molecules aren't miniature monsters with eyes and teeth. I understand why they used that imagery; they want to show how frightening these chemicals can be. I can't really call this chemophobia, because it would not be irrational to avoid putting these chemicals in your body.

This public service announcement is doing a significant public disservice, though. People are highly influenced by what they see on TV. This ad is misinforming viewers on the true nature of chemistry. Worst of all, it doesn't need to be done. Why not show the actual molecules? I'd even be ok with a little anthropomorphism; make the actual molecule look menacing. But well intentioned bad science is still bad science.